Friday, February 24, 2012

Letter to Department of Labor

The Department of Labor is proposing to apply the Fair Labor Standards Act to home care-givers, and force employers to pay the federal minimum wage.  This is just another example of our government striving ever so diligently to regulate every facet of our lives. 

This letter is my comment to the DOL regarding their proposal.  Anyone can submit a comment in response to a federal agency's proposal for rule-making.  It's our only chance to be heard before regulations become the law of the land.  Comments can be submitted here:

The Department of Labor’s proposal to force employers of home care-takers to pay the federal minimum wage is both unwarranted and counterproductive.  First, and most importantly, the care-giver and employer should be free to determine the terms of employment, including the amount of wages paid.  Tens of thousands of care-givers and employers enter into mutually beneficial exchange every day without government intervention.  In the absence of coercion, care-givers will agree to terms of employment only when they feel they are being adequately compensated for their labor.  Interference from the DOL will do little to improve these mutually beneficial arrangements.

Second, forcing employers, which are often small families, to pay the federal minimum wage would reduce employment of some care-givers.  In the face of higher costs, some families may opt to either reduce the hours worked by care-givers or forgo care-takers all together.  This would not only decrease employment opportunities for care-givers, but force families into sub-optimal choices for caring for family members.  Additionally, a one-size-fits-all minimum wage doesn’t appreciate the differences in regional wage rates nor does it consider the often substantial differences in work requirements placed upon care-givers.

Lastly, the federal minimum wage can too often become the “maximum” wage.  Some care-givers may experience substantial decreases in their wages if the minimum wage is forced on employers.  Some employers who currently pay care-givers more than the federal minimum wage may feel inclined to reduce those wages in the face of a federal minimum wage.  New employers in the market may balk at paying wages above the federal minimum, depriving care-givers of income they might have enjoyed in the absence of a minimum wage.

The proposed rule seeks to be a solution to a non-problem, interfere in the otherwise mutually beneficial exchange of employers and care-givers, and potentially reduce employment opportunities for care-givers while increasing costs for employers.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

On the latest Obamacare Mandate

Much has been said regarding the latest Health & Human Services edict compelling nearly all insurance plans to cover birth control, the morning-after pill, and abortion services.  While this is certainly outrageous, I haven’t heard many complain about the real underlying issue, which is this:  Our government, specifically the President of the United States (one man), has ordered that a private company sell a specific kind of product.  Not only that, but (nearly) all health plans must provide this product to women free of charge.  Of course nothing is free, as companies will be forced to increase premiums to pay for this “free” service.

Let’s boil this down.  The President mandated that all health plans provide free contraceptives to women.

Are we living in a constitutional republican form of government or a dictatorship?  I’m afraid that edicts like this one are just the tip of the iceberg.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Obamacare: The Individual Mandate

The Cato Institute filed its last Amici brief with the Supreme Court this week in advance of the upcoming oral arguments.    Here are some snippets:

We believe that “the Court either should stop saying that there is a meaningful limit on Congress’s power or prove that it is so.”
“The Constitution does not permit Congress to conscript citizens into economic transactions to remedy the admitted shortcomings—which the government usually terms “necessities”—of a hastily assembled piece of legislation.”
“Nor has Congress ever before imposed on everyone a civil penalty for declining to participate in the market.”
“Even in Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942), the federal government claimed “merely” the power to regulate what farmers grew, not to mandate that people become farmers, much less to force people to purchase farm products.4 Even if not purchasing health insurance is considered an “economic activity”—which of course would mean that every aspect of human life is economic activity—there is no constitutional warrant for Congress to force Americans to enter the market-place to buy a particular good or service.”
“Conversely, non-economic activity (or, as in this case, inactivity) cannot be regulated merely because it affects interstate commerce through a “causal chain,” or has, in the aggregate, “substantial effects on employment, production, transit, or consumption.”

Nine robed men and women will soon decide whether or not our elected representatives can force us into purchasing a private good.  No other case is more important to our liberty or fundamental to our natural and God-given right to decide when to engage in trade.  For if the masses can be conscripted into economic commerce, this power knows no limit.

You can read the whole brief here.